Joel Landau, District 4 candidate
Residential address: 6 Collwood Court, 27409 Incumbent or challenger? (Open seat) Age: 58 Campaign website or blog: http://www.joellandau.com/ Occupation and employer: General manager, Deep Roots Market Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): At-large candidate for Greensboro City Council in 2005 and 2007 Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Impact Greensboro, Neighborhood Committee (2008); co-chair, Greensboro Community Sustainability Council, member of executive committee and issues and bylaws committee, Greensboro Neighborhood Congress; member, Greensboro Planning Board; member, Cool Cities Greensboro chapter; board of directors, Brandywine Homeowners Association (2002-2005); board of directors, Resources for Artful Living (2001-2004); board of directors, Appalantic Federation of Cooperatives (1990-1992), board of directors, Citizens for Waste Reduction and Recycling (1989); board of directors, Deep Roots Cooperative (1981-1989, 1990-1994) Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Bachelor of science, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan race) What is the city and state of your birth? New York City If not Greensboro, what year did you move here? 1981 Paid consultants working on your campaign: None Your campaign manager(s): Nick DiVitci Your treasurer: Nick DiVitci
‘ Remarks from Sept. 8 candidate forum: Introductory statement Good evening, everybody. Thank you for coming…. My name is Joel Landau. I’m running for city council because I feel we can do better. Here’s a little bit about my background. I’m deeply involved with the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, serving on both its executive committee and its issues committee. I’m also a neighborhood delegate to the congress. I serve as co-chair of Greensboro’s Community Sustainability Council. Greensboro Beautiful recently honored me with a special award for a commitment to a vision of a greener Greensboro. I have over 20 years of experience in successfully managing small businesses in Greensboro. I’m general manager of Deep Roots Market, the winner of the 2009 small business retailer of the year award. I served almost four years on the Greensboro Planning Board, which just expired last month — not the planning board, my term — where I was a voice against urban sprawl and a supporter of neighborhood rights. All in all, I’m a voice for progress. I’m not a member of any private interest group. I’m just a concerned citizen wanting to serve you, the people of our wonderful city. Would you ever support a tax increase in order to provide improved public services? I’ve got over 20 years of experience running businesses and efficiency is real important to me. I was president of my homeowners association a couple years. You know, my first preference is to see if we can reduce taxes. Failing that, I want to keep taxes where they are. I would not rule out a tax increase. I think you have to look at what the needs of the city are. We need certain services, and balance revenues and expenses the best we can. I think any of us can think of some areas where we just might need more money, be it temporarily, to deal with an emergency, or to take advantage of some special offer maybe. Maybe we can save a bunch of money down the road by spending a little now if there’s a grant that came up in the state or local government. I go into it with an open mind. My first choice is to reduce taxes. How would you be accountable to constituents? One thing is I give out my phone number: 854-2728, though it’s easier to reach me at work, which is 292-9216 extension 3. You can reach me through my website, joellandau.com. I plan on having regular meetings at different recreation centers around my district that will be advertised. You can come out, talk to me, give me your input and ask me questions. Another issue that we’ve been looking at recently at the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress is how our boards and commissions get filled. Often people put in applications and they don’t get appointed. The reason is that a city council member is not going to appoint someone that they don’t know because they want to vouch for whoever they’re putting on a board of a commission. I will take an active role in looking at anyone who has put in an application…. What would you do to help bring more jobs to the area, as well as promote the growth of small businesses? And how would you help the MWBEs, the minority- and women-owned business enterprises? With the MWBA, one thing I’d like to check into, I believe right now the city has a process for contracts that are $30,000 or more. Under that, from what I understand, it’s kind of the good-old boy network. So I’d like to look at perhaps lowering that threshold to open up that process. A lot of minority contractors and women contractors are small businesses. A $20,000 contract would be a big deal for them. With businesses in general I think we might need to look at what would be some niches for us, such as aviation, logistics and higher education, obviously research into some of the areas pertaining to nanotechnology and biotechnology and see if we can really focus on those. With small business and supporting them, we have good and accessible support services to help people get started and to provide counseling along the way. Personally, I think we need to buy local as much as we can. It’s something we emphasize at Deep Roots, supporting our local businesses…. I’d like to see the city have a more active internship program, or at least work with the colleges to make their internship programs better. We need to keep our young people, graduating from school, in town.’ How do you measure the savings versus human life and the environment in the area of the White Street Landfill? Someone mentioned earlier: This is a controversial issue right now. I don’t know how you measure human life. There’s not a good way to do that. Some people have a concern whether there really is a health hazard. Having not seen anything to disprove that yet I would rather err on the side of caution and assume there is a health hazard. One of my concerns with the landfill — because I’m not sure how I would have voted back in 2006 when council voted to close it — but we did make a promise to keep it closed to municipal solid waste and some people have moved there, businesses have gone there, and in general it’s a question of integrity, too. When the city makes a promise, does it mean anything or is it just, ‘Well, we said it last year, but we don’t mean it anymore?’ Now, being in District 4, I have a lot of constituents that are coming up to me and voice a different opinion. Of course, I’m going to listen to them. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to do what they say, but I’m certainly going to give it serious consideration. So I hope I straddled that well enough. What are your big plans for Greensboro? That’s an interesting question. It almost has the premise that one person can go in and change the city. Things that are real important to me include, I think we need to change our current development patterns. Sprawl, which I define as developing land at a faster rate than the population is growing. It uses up precious resources. It makes it harder to do mass transit, which we all say we want to do, but you can’t do it when you’re sprawling…. It’s real important that we empower good people to get involved with decisions that affect their lives directly. Of course, as the neighborhood congress, we’re very active with that. I’d like to see us have a sustainable, green economy, one that has jobs that are going to be around for awhile and that meet the changing needs of the world and the country in terms of what’s happening with markets, energy efficiency and such. What else? We need to build community, to get people talking again and build trust and to promote a civil discourse, looking for solutions to problems. As a business person, I’m solution oriented. And I’m looking for people, not that they agree with me necessarily, but they agree about let’s work together to do what’s best for the city. What can we do to make our city a safer place — to reduce crime, drug addiction, vacant housing, homelessness and panhandling? I would reinforce the community policing that we do; that seems to have a good effect on increasing trust, which helps reduce crime. Crime-watch programs help. We certainly need adequate police staffing…. As I’ve heard the chief say, “The police can go after criminals.” The things that cause crime are not things that our police can address. That has to do with social problems. We need to have positive options for our youth. We have some good programs now at our rec centers to give them something to do that they enjoy like the basketball program we have here in the summer. Use libraries to the fullest, besides the recreation centers. Promoting neighborhood cohesion is part of it. And then, of course, jobs. Under all of this, improving the economy and providing more jobs for people. That reduces a big part of the cause of crime. Closing statement A couple issues, just to touch back on. When we talk about the landfill one thing that we need to include is that we need to reduce the amount of waste that we generate. There’s no reason we can’t cut our waste by 50 percent. And that will get us some serious savings. Whatever we do, whether it’s the White Street or the transfer station, that will keep the cost down and also increase the length of whatever landfill that we use. I just wanted to mention quickly about the LDO rezonings that came up. And I know one of our [inaudible] brought up at a city council meeting that she didn’t know that all the properties were being rezoned. Council was briefed about that a year ago. This is something, three and a half, four years, this LDO — land development ordinance — has been being rewritten. And it’s mainly a matter of rezonings of people, of the categories being renamed. Now, the planning department grossly underestimated how important people would think that particular item was when they heard that properties were being rezoned. In most cases, it has no effect on what they can do with their properties. So that wasn’t handled well. In general, in my closing, I feel that we need to get more people engaged with local government. As a city council member, I will reach out for your input. I feel my experience running a small business has taught me how to listen to the customer, which is you. How to be efficient and how to solve problems. I understand finances and budgeting, and I will work to see that your tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively. In all, I bring experience and perspective based on neighborhoods, sustainability, small business, community engagement and people working together. My history is one of working cooperatively with others to build community, solve problems and get things done. If you aren’t happy with how city council has gone the past two years, then please support me, Joel Landau, District 4.
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